Here's another reason why Black Caps coach Gary Stead and his batting sidekick, Craig McMillan, don't need to look far should push come to shove in resolving some willow-whacking issues.

With a rash of personnel away on myriad international duties, the Central Districts Stags batsmen still put Otago Volts to the sword when the four-day Plunket Shield resumed in Alexandra today.

New CD skipper Greg Hay laid down a platform with his 12th first-class century as opening batsman on day one of the round-three match at Molyneux Park.

The Heinrich Malan-coached Stags are 4-278 with Hay and No 6 Kieran Noema-Barnett resuming tomorrow morning on 130 runs and one run, respectively.

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Hay found allies in fellow opener Bradley Schmulian (41 runs) and No 4 Tom Bruce (71) after Dean Foxcroft departed cheaply for 10 at first drop on shield debut.

The 34-year-old from Nelson, who was the second highest run scorer in the red-ball format last season with 786 runs, made up for lost time in the opening two rounds with another milestone not long after Bruce had posted his half century.

In keeping with tradition, Hay was kept out of the media loop but Bruce fronted up to shed some light on a lucrative, third-wicket partnership of more than 180 runs.

"It was a successful partnership between Haysey and me in terms of positional play so, hopefully, we can go on to post a big score," said Bruce.

He agreed the unbeaten knock would boost the resolve of Hay as the first one since he started wearing the stripes on his arm this summer.

Bruce said it would mean a lot to the gritty opener who took over the mantle of red-ball leadership from William Young this season.

Hay brought up his ton with patient singles shortly after tea, when he was on 96, with 16 boundaries and, it seems, no desire to free up his arms for lusty sixes.

After the 229-ball and 281-minute occupation of the batting crease, Hay - nor Bruce for that matter - felt the compulsion to throw his wicket away simply because he had reached three figures.

They showed utmost respect to the bowlers but when the opportunity arose they were happy to drive, cut and sweep loose deliveries — just ask medium pacer Shawn Hicks and left-arm spinner and debutant Ben Lockrose.

Is Hay too old for the Black Caps?

Hardly because tweaker Will Somerville has made thirtysomething quite sexy in New Zealand cricket again.

Besides, in a format where how many balls you leave, not how many you play, maketh the man age is an undeniable attribute when married with experience.

CD batsman Tom Bruce missed out on a fifth first-class century but he knows every run will add up when the dust settles at Molyneux Park, Alexandra. Photo / Photosport
CD batsman Tom Bruce missed out on a fifth first-class century but he knows every run will add up when the dust settles at Molyneux Park, Alexandra. Photo / Photosport

Bruce had amassed eight fours and a solitary six. But the 27-year-old from Te Kuiti, who has represented his country in 14 T20 internationals and has four first-class centuries, fell to the raised finger of a white coat when Volts opening bowler Jacob Duffy trapped him leg before wicket to break the partnership.

In Bruce fashion, the bolshy right-hander wasn't about to offer any excuses or play the unlucky card and instead graciously accepted the verdict.

"I just missed a relatively straight one," he said, although the new ball would have had to have been a factor from a run earlier.

His 119-ball, 172-minute commitment will become a bullet-point when the stumps are finally lifted to declare a result on or before Sunday.

"I'm more disappointed with myself, really, because it was a very good partnership where I could have really helped set the boys up so it's just a shame that I couldn't really kick off."

Wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver came and went cheaply for six runs at No 5. Schmulian will rue not going on to build on his innings but it's easy to overlook the role of an opener whose primary project is to help take the shine off the new cherry in the early overs.

Captain Duffy, who Hay asked to bowl on winning the toss, and fellow new-ball seamer Nathan Smith got 2-51 and 2-38, respectively, as the Volts employed seven bowlers on a deck that is flat and on which the ball has kept low.

"It's been quite difficult, at times, but they bowled relatively well as well which has made it tough and all those runs pretty important."

A declaration is imminent tomorrow?

"Yes, we'll try to get all the bonus points first, I think, tomorrow morning and relatively quickly ... so we'll have a better idea from there."